For those with smartphones, here are some essential apps out there to take your riding to the next level. You can track, analyze, share and get coaching to take you there.
Spoke Talk columns publish weekly in the Steamboat Today newspaper.
• Endomondo: This easy-to-use app allows you to track rides utilizing the GPS chip in your phone, overlaying your ride onto maps, tracking heart rate (using a Bluetooth compatible heart-rate belt), vertical climbed or descended, average and maximum speed, distance, ride duration, calories burned and uploading to a website where you can view overall statistics that pair with other apps below, such as MyFitnessPal.
• Strava: For those with a competitive streak, Strava allows you to track rides and compete for best times over “segments” that you and other riders define along your ride track. The app will tell you where you are on the leaderboard, whether your time is a personal record as well as tracking overall performance stats like heart rate, power, speed, altitude, etc. Warning: This app does not give you permission to forget trail etiquette or road safety in pursuit of glory.
• MTB Project: Quite possibly the best app developed for exploring trails in new areas, this ambitious app created with the support of IMBA has mapped mountain bike trails, providing an overview of trail difficulty, ride experience notes and easy-to-use maps to locate the trailhead and track your progress along the route (handy when you come to a fork in the trail without signage) so that you know where you are at all times, as long as your battery is alive.
• MyFitnessPal: In cycling, where we frequently work against gravity, lightweight equals fast. You can spend hundreds (even thousands) reducing the weight of your bike by a pound or two. Equally effective and more easily attained is to shed a few pounds from your own frame. For the majority of us, weight can be influenced significantly by simply managing calories consumed versus calories burned. Burn more than you consume on a regular basis, and you will lose weight as your body burns up fat reserves. Cycling gives you an obvious means to burn calories. This app helps you understand what you are consuming and combines with other apps such as Endomondo to tell where you are on your calorie goal. Easy bar code scanning and thousands of already input food items allow you to easily measure calories consumed.
• Training Peaks: If you are training more seriously for your sport, Training Peaks might be your choice to track and upload workouts to your free Training Peaks account for detailed training plan management or sharing and discussing progress with a coach. The mobile app gives you instant access to workout notes for your daily plan, allowing you to share information immediately post workout.
• Velo News: Bring the world of cycling to your fingertips from the definitive cycling news source with this free app that includes cycling news, race results and equipment reviews.
• Tech Tip: My experience with using smartphones on the trail has been frustrating at times because of the power loads that the GPS tracking and the apps can place on your battery. To get around this and to have all-important cellphone use when you really need it, buy an external battery.
Robin Craigen is a Routt County Riders member and past board officer.